Obesity, Herbs and Decoction

While Obesity becomes a common phenomenon, to battle it out, herbs come to help. This article will throw light on a few remedies pertaining to herbs and ayurveda which will be of great help to cure obesity and its related issues.

Common causes of obesity are:

1. Overeating
2. Sedentary life style
3. Genetic
4. Thyroid problems
5. Allopathic drug reactions
6. Disturbed hormonal balance

Complications of obesity are:

Heart diseases, Arthritis, Chronic back aches, Tiredness, Dyspnoea (breathlessness), Sleeping excessively, Diabetes, Depression, Poor immune system, Hyperlipidemia, etc. can be eliminated or controlled by regular regimen of what one eats and what one does.

Excessive dieting or starving in the name of fast without proper guidance of a nutritionists might help weight loss but might also weaken the body and lead to problems like osteoporosis, in later age because of deficiency of calcium and other vital elements and vitamins. Moreover, this ‘fashionable’ approach involves risk of disturbing the hormonal system too.

If one is not regular in the exercises, be it yoga-asanas, aerobics or practices taught in gymnasiums, one is most likely to regain the fat and body-weight lost after long efforts. The reason being, most of these (except yoga-asanas, if accompanied by pranayamas) remedies focus only on lessening the accumulated flesh and fat of the physical body. Modern physiotherapies and fitness techniques also use ‘liposuction’. In this method, the thick layer of fat in the abdominal region is ‘sucked’ or ‘melted’ (and hence excreted by the body with other fluids) by Diathermy or some special machines. Similar effects are achieved by Isallotherm treatment, deep heat treatment of steam bath, etc. But all these techniques provide only a temporary solution and the rebound effects of these are more rapid and intense. Therefore these cannot really be regarded as useful for getting rid of obesity. It has been a common observation that those suffering from obesity are prone to gaining weight much rapidly than shedding it; they should therefore look for a remedy that attacks obesity at its root; as well.

Among the other causes of obesity, disorder of hormonal secretion is of maximum concern. Moreover, the disorder of hormonal secretion has deeper roots in the endocrine system and psychology. It could at times be the side effect of synthetic medicines or physiological disturbances caused by anti-contraceptive pills, steroids, or by pre-menopausal fluctuations, etc. But, more complicated are the cases of psychological aberrations and emotional complexities.

For example, perturbation in secretions from the thyroid, pituitary and pineal glands generates many psychosomatic problems and also leads to uncontrollable loss of weight or, on the contrary, acute obesity. These and other endocrine glands are very sensitive to mental and emotional states. Emotional shock, suppression of loneliness in childhood or adolescence also lead to hormonal disturbances in the young age which often give rise to, among other health problems, obesity; hidden tensions are also found to be significant causes of obesity. In view of this, the healthcare approaches that focus on the emotional core and the mind-body system as a whole and do not cause any disturbance in the natural neuro-chemical, hormonal and physiological processes appear to be more suitable.

Ayurvedic scriptures advise several methods for uprooting obesity and also provide feasible ways for sustaining healthy and hearty life. These include easy-to-adopt disciplines of food, eating habits and living style and naturally effective medicines like Rasayanas and decoctions prepared with the help of selected herbs/plant medicines. Yagya-therapy is prominent among the Ayurvedic methods of curing obesity.

Medanasaka Kwatha (Fat-destroying Decoction):

Ingredients: Equal quantities of Anvala, Harada, Baheda, Giloya, Nagarmotha, Tejapatra, Citraka, Vijayasara, Haldi (Turmeric), seeds of Circita or Apamarga.

Method of Preparation and Dose:

Mix the above ingredients in equal proportion in dry form. Prepare a coarse powder by adequate grinding. Keep the powder in an airtight container. As an average dose for an adult, every day, fresh decoction prepared with five teaspoons (about 15gm) of this herbal powder in half-liter water should be used. Soak 15gm of the powder in half a liter of water at night. Boil it the next day morning. The flame of the burner or stove should be kept mild. It should also be stirred in between to avoid burning. Boiling should continue till the solution reduces to its one-fourth. When it cools down to normal (room) temperature, it should be filtered using a fine, clean piece of cloth. Half of this filtered solution, mixed with about a teaspoon of honey should be drunk empty stomach in the morning between 8a.m. and 10a.m. and remaining half should be taken with one teaspoon of honey between 4p.m. and 6p.m. the same day. Fresh decoction should be prepared for every day.

Honey should be pure; otherwise the decoction should be taken without it, as the sugar mixed, adulterated honey is not good for health. Likewise several other Ayurvedic medicines and the diet norms as recommended by the doctor should also be taken and observed for best results. In general, as it is well known in the case of obesity, fried and oily food, use of cream, cheese and lavish desserts and dry fruits should be strictly avoided. Fresh, green leafy vegetables and fibrous food should be taken instead. The morning dose of the above decoction should be taken empty stomach and nothing should be drunk at least for half-an-hour after taking this dose; nothing should be eaten until an hour after this dose. The duration between eating or drinking something (other than water) and taking the second (i.e. the afternoon) dose, should be at least an hour before and after taking this dose.

If this medication is continued with diet and exercise norms as given below, the positive results begin to show fast. Within a month an obese person would see significant reduction in his fat and body-weight and would feel fit, energetic and active.

The following ‘anti-corpulence’ herbal medicine restrains the production of fat, helps decomposition of hydrocarbons and production of useful proteins and easily removable juices without disturbing the healthy metabolism. It can be taken with or without taking the decoction. This together with the decoction is usually advised for those who cannot do sufficient physical exercise or cannot be regular in it because of acute obesity or some other constraints.

Along with this if one restricts oneself from consumption of diet high in fats like, Ghee (Clarified Butter), Cheese, non-vegetarian food, Lassi (Buttermilk), Paratha (Fried Indian Bread), Paneer (Cottage Cheese), Malai (Cream), sweets, cashewnuts, peanuts, fried food, food having very high carbohydrates like potatoes, other roots and tubers, then the effect of the above said herbal medicine works more faster.

Sthaulyahara (Anti-Corpulence) Powder:

Ingredients: Ten grams (10gms) each of the following: Sauntha, Pipala, Kali Mirch (Black Pepper), root of pipala, Anvala, Harada, Baheda, Cavya, Citrakamula, Kali Jiri, Bakuci Bija, seeds of Circita or Apamarga, Vayavidang, Sendha Namaka, Kala Namaka (Red or rock Salt), Sada Namaka (Common Salt), Yavaksara (a carbonate of potash; potasii carbonas), Kantalauha Bhasm (Ayurvedically processed ‘ash’ of a special kind of ferrous ore).

Preparation and Dose:

Mix all the eighteen ingredients in pure dry form. Grind the mixture into fine powder. Keep this powder in airtight glass bottle or any other airtight glass container. The average dose of this powder to be taken twice a day is – about half to one gram (half a teaspoon) in the morning empty stomach and same dose in the evening at least an hour before dinner and an hour after eating anything else. It is advisable to take this dose of the anti-corpulence powder with two teaspoons of honey. However, if pure, natural honey is not available or is not affordable, it can very well be consumed with little water. The diet restrictions remain as in the case of using the decoction; that is, fried and high calorie stuffs should be avoided. An ideal diet is described below. This should be adopted as far as possible in general and is a must in case the disease (obesity) is very advanced or its cause is so intense that no other medication has been effective despite diet restraints. In any case one should drink sufficient water (minimum twelve glasses per day for an adult).

Ayurveda also advises that, except for heart patients or patients having other serious problems, every adult should take water empty stomach to its full capacity every morning. At least one glassful of water should be consumed 5-10 minutes before taking meals. The amount of water drunk during and immediately after meals should be kept to a minimum – say few gulps to keep the throat wet. At least one glassful or two of water should be drunk at a slow pace after about an hour after the meals. This simple practice prevents acidity and also helps reducing obesity. Pure drinking water is a rich source of energy and of many vital minerals and vitamins. It is also a necessary medium for many important biochemical reactions including those of metabolism and ionic balance. It thus helps freshen the brain as well. So consuming it in substantial amounts is generally good for healthy and hearty life.

Regular adoption of this medication starts showing positive results in six to seven months’ time in general. Though at a slow pace, this medicine uproots the cause of obesity forever. Most importantly, it does not have any side effects or risk of prolonged use.

Ideal food for best effects of the herbal/plant medicinal decoction and powder medication described here is an appropriate combination of some of the following items as per their availability in the season: Chapattis of Barley(Indian bread made with Barley wheat); wheat cereals in coarse form (porridge) well cooked in steam, a little amount of rice (cooked using old grains of rice), Kodo, Sanva, Neevar, Priyangu, Kulathi; Grams/pulses like Chana (Black gram), Masur (Red lentil), Munga (Green gram), Arhar (Yellow gram); vegetables (in substantial amounts, cooked in pressure cooker with no or very little oil and minimum amount of fresh spices like black pepper, ginger, green chili, turmeric and mineral salt) such as – Patta Gobhi (Cabbage), Padval (Round Gourd), Torai or Lauki (Green Gourd); Gilki (Green Legume of the family of Greengourd), Chaulai (Kidney-bean), Palak (Spinach), Methi greenleafs (Fenugreek), Muli (Radish) and Muli-patta (green leafs of Radish); Deshi Gajar (India Carrot), Baingan (Brinjal), Kachcha Kela (Raw Banana), Karela (Bitter Gourd), Kakadki (Cucumber), Adarak (Ginger); Pudina (Mint leafs), fruits like Angoor (Grapes), Santara (Orange), Mausambi (Sweet Lime), Jamun (Black Berry); and other supplements like cream-free and butter-less butter-milk or Whey (Chacha or Matha) little amount of pure natural honey.

For quick results, minimizing the chances of lethargy and re-accumulation of fat and for generally fit and healthy body and mind, one should also give include long walks and/or some physical labor and balancing relaxation exercises in daily routine. Creative exercises like gardening, swimming at least once or twice a week are also good for those who do not have any health problems in doing so. As per one’s circumstance, time-schedules and health, suitable yoga-asanas and pranayams should be practiced for best effects.

– Dr. Hiren Parekh.